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Askew Review 15

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BLIND by K. Rodriguez (Site/Buy) Fiction, 2006. 247 pages. Let’s see, favorite songs about skinheads? Probably Darkbuster’s “Skinhead” and Hard Skin’s “Millwall Mark.” Favorite skinhead movies? American History X and Made in Britain . Favorite books about skinheads? Has to be Martin King’s A Boy’s Story and this one. (Admittedly I’ve never read any others with this exact main subject- the football hooligan novels I love so much by the likes of John King, Kevin Sampson and bits and bobs from Irvine Welsh aren’t technically about skins, just violent nutters in general- but I really do like these two books). Favorite skinhead cartoons, Broadway musicals and TV sitcoms? I’ll have to get back to you on that later.
  Blind is the first-person tale of Bryant (his last name), a young Bay Area skin who heretofore prided himself on his lifestyle choice and the fact that he and his crew are vehemently anti-racist. As the book progresses, Bryant is faced with some serious issues. Events unfold that lead him to question his friendships, his relationship with his girlfriend, his attitude toward minorities and, ultimately, the idea of revenge. Oh yeah, and through it all he’s involved in a fuck load of violent altercations. He’s kind of a dick for the first part of the story, but as these life-altering situations occur, he actually becomes a better person and is even sort of likeable by the time Blind reaches its redemptive conclusion.
  It’s obvious that Rodriguez knows a lot about skinhead culture, writes good, solid dialogue (which is a lot harder than it may seem), can develop a decent plot and has a real talent for writing blood-pumping, glue-you-to-the-page fight scenes. And, right or wrong, when I found out that “K.” wasn’t actually a 20-something dude as I originally assumed, but rather a woman of 19 or 20 when she wrote this book, I couldn’t help but be more impressed than I already was. Let me be clear that this story stands on its own no matter what its author’s gender and age is. But the fact that someone so young can write so convincingly about a character of the opposite sex- and such a brutal fucker to boot- amazes me. This book is one person’s DIY labor of love, and I’m glad she put this out the way she did. There are a number of grammatical errors throughout, but that ended up not really bothering me all that much. I actually started to attribute these to Bryant himself, thinking that if he were really writing this as his memoir, these types of errors would be in there. I look forward to reading whatever Rodriguez comes up with next. –Ben Hunter



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